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Republican legislators curb authority of county, state election officials

Matt Vasilogambros, Stateline.org on

Published in Political News

Hobbs, however, said this move is a part of a broader, ongoing assault on ballot access that aims to empower the legislature to determine election outcomes.

“This is not about me following the law or not,” Hobbs said. “It’s not just a one-off. Certainly, the attacks we’ve seen on elections on all fronts — on voting rights, on election administration — is all a coordinated attack and this is one aspect of it.”

Democratic state Rep. Athena Salman, the minority whip, said GOP efforts to shift election oversight are a power play by Republicans worried about losing control of state government.

“These policies continue to legitimize through no evidence that our election administrators can’t be trusted,” she said. “It’s incredibly disturbing. It continues to undermine faith in democracy.”

Arizona Senate Republicans have launched a partisan audit of Maricopa County’s results, trying to find evidence of fraud in the hopes of overturning Biden’s win in the state. The audit has drawn widespread ire from election security experts, who say it has compromised the integrity of the Phoenix area’s election equipment.

In Georgia, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in March signed into law a measure that demotes the secretary of state from the chair of the State Board of Elections and allows the legislature to appoint most members of the board. It also permits the board to suspend election officials.

 

Using this new law, Republican lawmakers are considering a state takeover of Fulton County elections, threatening local control of the Democratic stronghold in the Atlanta area. After the November presidential election, Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger resisted calls from Trump and other Republicans to decertify Biden’s victory in the Peach State.

New laws nationwide also personally target local election officials, many of whom are still reeling from the challenge of providing safe access to the ballot during the pandemic and contending with a misinformation campaign that sowed doubt in the democratic process.

Joel Miller lives under the fear that making a mistake in his role as the chief election officer for the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, area could cost him up to $10,000.

Republican lawmakers in the Hawkeye State enacted a new measure earlier this year that makes county auditors such as Miller, a Democrat, liable for financial penalties for technical infractions. Those could range from a vote tallying error to proactively sending out absentee ballot applications.

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